(Continued from May 9, 2020)
It suggests the medical professions to implement the required hand hygiene practices, take strict protective isolation measures against droplet, contact and airborne infections, and wear proper protective equipment such as goggles, medical surgical masks, medical protective masks, protective gowns, and hazmat-like suits. As of March 8th, none of the 42,000 medical staff who assisted Hubei had been infected.
The extra cautious protection, or the principle of additional protection, was a result of the perception of uncertainty and higher risks associated with COVID-19. This principle also applies to other workers who are at a similar level of risks.
Additional protection is the stronger protection on top of the standard protection. Whether to put on extra protection is based on the evaluation of the actual risks medical workers may be exposed to at work. Generally, the PPE of health-care workers are surgical masks, gowns and so on. However, when the risk of infection exposure is increased, all relevant workers not limited to medical staff, such as cleaners of medical wastes, should wear a full set of personal protective equipment.
The circumstances include:
• possibility of contact with blood, body fluids or virus specimens of patients with infectious diseases,
• need to enter infected areas or transfer infectious patients.
When the risk of infection is particularly severe, such as operating on patients with Category A infectious disease, new and recurrent infectious diseases and unknown infectious diseases, more stringent protection would be taken, such as wearing positive pressure respiratory protective hood.
In short, the configuration of PPE for Chinese health workers is based on the experience and lessons of practice. It is a more deliberate, reliable and safer protection strategy.
Q23: Why does China widely combine traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine in treating COVID-19?
A: 1. A massive number of cases and data have proved that combining traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) with western medicine leads to better curative effect. In 2004, WHO, in a 194-page clinical trial investigation and analysis report, affirmed the safety and effectiveness of preventing and treating SARS through combining TCM and western medicine. For COVID-19 prevention and treatment practices, TCM is estimated to be used for more than 90% of cases in China. Multiple datasets show that combined treatment performs significantly better than western medicine alone in relieving symptoms, shortening hospital stay length, and increasing nucleic acid conversion rate.
- TCM has a long history and enjoys high public popularity. From a cultural psychological perspective, using TCM has at least a placebo effect. As the novel coronavirus pandemic spreads, demands for Chinese medicine exploded not only in China but also in the US and in Europe. In the context that the efficacy of TCM cannot fully be proved or falsified, people’s choices based on long-term historical experience and personal feelings should be respected.
- TCM is inexpensive and safe. TCM is mainly made from natural plants and some animals or minerals. It has a long history of application and a mature theoretical system and medication guidance. As long as the relevant theoretical guidance is followed, it is safe and cost effective. In the absence of specific drugs, TCM can be an important option for treating COVID-19.
- The value of TCM should not be denied on the grounds that there are practical problems with TCM or that its theories and practices are unknown or not fully understood. Admittedly, TCM is encountering practical challenges due to long-term shortage of professional talents and policy deviations. However, this does not mean that TCM theories and methods are problematic. TCM has its own independent philosophical system, as well as a systematic and complete theoretical system for life sciences and health interventions. TCM should not be evaluated or judged merely from a western medicine perspective. Both TCM and western medicine are important components of human life science achievements. The combination of TCM and western medicine should base on their respective mature theoretical systems and intervention techniques for joint positive contribution to human life and health.
Author: Wang Xiongjun
(To be continued on May 14, 2020)